Prawn & Mushroom Salad with Samphire & Baby Dill Potatoes

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prawn and Mushroom Salad with Samphire and Baby Dill Potatoes

Like with anything, there are trends in food. If you're like me and you're a slave to cookery reality shows (MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen & a classic Nigella or Barefoot Contessa) then you're aware of this. Food trends, like the eternally youthful, follow the seasons. When its time to brace for the chill of winter, you're likely to see rustic ingredients lining the benches of TV's greatest chefs. Usually misshapen, colorful squashes and root vegetables or earthy, spices like nutmeg.

One such food trend I have been following for a long time is samphire. Samphire is referred to as a sea bean. It is a spindly, green vegetable that looks like a mangled anorexic green bean mated with asparagus spears. Originally used in the 14th century to make glass (when it was referred to as glasswort), samphire is now making a return to the forefront of society in the realm of cookery. It has a delicate taste that's subtle and salty. There are two types of samphire--rock and marsh. Rock samphire is the type that was used to make glass and is inedible.

I first came across samphire, I am thrilled to say, unexpectedly in Asda (Walmart). Wandering through the produce aisle, I saw it. It was displayed in the refrigerated section with sugar snap peas and other waxy green beans. Without hesitation, I plucked up a pack and tossed it into the shopping cart. "We have to try this," I said to my boyfriend who stared at this odd spindly mass of sea fringe. Long since having relented to my adventures in cooking, he shrugged and made no comment.

A few days later and after brief research into the tasty sea treat, it boiled in a pot of slightly salted water on my stove, waiting to be paired with a salad of pan-fried prawns and mushrooms (cooked in groundnut oil) and boiled baby potatoes smattered with sea salt and dill.

The flavors were exquisite. Something really great happens when you combine the salty freshness of the samphire with seafood. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the potatoes worked nicely as well to balance it and created a modern take on a surf and turf dish. I particularly enjoyed the depth the dill brought the dish. It elevated everything and you had the sweetness of the dill meeting the almost sour saltiness of the samphire and the prawns in a beautiful way.

I believe samphire is definitely going in my arsenal of must cook with again ingredients.

I'm looking forward to trying it with some scallops and a red wine jus ... alas, that dish will have to wait until this pregnancy is over.

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